Myrtle Witbooi, President of the International Domestic Workers’ Federation, passed away

On 16 January 2023, Myrtle Witbooi, President of the International Domestic Workers’ Federation (IDWF) passed away, after a long battle with cancer.

The whole SOLIDAR family is heartbroken at the news and sends its deepest condolences to IDWF, her family and her comrades all around the world. Myrtle Witbooi had been a courageous fighter all her life, from apartheid South Africa, organising women domestic workers, such as herself, in her garage, to the establishment of SADSAWU and IDWF, pushing for vital legislation protecting the rights of millions of women worldwide. Thanks to her tireless work, she organised domestic workers’ associations all around the world and supported the approval of the ILO Convention C189, which recognises and ensures decent work and protection for domestic workers. Together with IDWF, she had been fighting for all ILO member states to ratify this important convention.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Myrtle and the IDWF supported millions of domestic workers who were at the frontline of the crisis and in many occasions had lost their source of income, making sure their rights were recognised and no one was left behind.

We were honoured to acknowledge her lifetime achievements and work with the Silver Rose Award Prize in 2021 and be able to award, document and disseminate her invaluable work in defence of domestic workers and concrete advancement towards social justice among our progressive family.

Although ill, in the past year, she continued supporting and working with IDWF alongside domestic workers. We have no doubt that she leaves a strong legacy behind. We, as SOLIDAR, treasure her contribution to social justice worldwide, on the side of the marginalised and invisible and we commit to continue pursuing this battle, alongside our members and progressive family and our comrades at IDWF and their constituencies.

Rest in power Myrtle.

If you want to learn about her life, her struggle and commitment, watch this video we produced in 2021 in the framework of Silver Rose Awards.